Improve Your Life By Tacking Tolerations:
Stop Putting Up With 'Stuff'


Women tolerate a lot. We put up with a lot of irritating annoyances. We’re taught not to complain, not to rock the boat, to go along with others, to be grateful for what we have, to be understanding, to be constantly available to family and friends.

Notwithstanding that sort of advice, we can still stop tolerating what’s bugging us! When we stop putting up with irritations and annoyances, we are happier, more fun to be around and have extra energy to express our values versus our egos. We develop an edge where we ‘step-over’ nothing.


Taking a Coach Approach to Upgrade Your Life

As a personal success coach, one of the first exercises I give new coaching clients involves managing ‘tolerations’. Tolerations are things we’re putting up with. These include people, situations, behaviours, yourself, your body, your environment, feelings, reactions, problems, pressures, expectations, restrictions, stresses and inadequacies.

They are often subtle energy drainers and time suckers. The time and energy we spend on tolerating things builds up, slowly draining us and limiting our effectiveness and overall happiness.

We tolerate issues for a number of ‘good’ reasons. These include cultural norms, ignorance, lack of awareness, unmet needs, external pressures and emotional stresses.


What Happens When We Put Up with Petty Annoyances?

  • We become mediocre.
  • Our work becomes ordinary and second rate.
  • We lose energy and feel tired.
  • Natural creativity is squashed.
  • Relationships can become fractious.

Tolerations slow us down. They create ‘frictions’ in our relationships. They make us unable to enjoy the journey of reaching our goals. In plain simple English, tolerations can give us stress, cause conflicts in our most important relationships and, potentially, may create feelings of exhaustion, discouragement, lack of confidence, pain and hurt.

Zapping tolerations is a necessary habit to build if we wish to improve our quality of life. As we grow, we can progressively raise our standards to creating a toleration-free zone for our lives.


The Benefits of Being Toleration-Free

  1. We stop wasting our life trying to manage situations that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
  2. We become more aware of our choices and become better at making the right choices for our life.
  3. We have more energy to devote to our quality of life, working on the things that are truly important to us.
  4. We’ll grow more quickly because we’re no longer distracted or weighed down by situations, people, or issues.

Typically, on a daily basis, we tolerate relatively minor inconveniences, like the blown light bulb in your bedroom or a personality conflict with a coworker. However, the time and energy you spend on tolerating these things builds up, slowly draining you and limiting your effectiveness and overall happiness.

Once you get these tolerations handled, you will be amazed at the new time and energy that will become available to you. You’ll discover that you’re better able to draw and maintain healthier boundaries. This is well worth whatever time and effort it takes.

Your goal is to put up with less and less.


It’s Very Wise and Efficient to Look for ‘Pivotal Tolerations’

Pivotal tolerations are those that, once handled, resolve multiple tolerations. For example, the lack of physical exercise or eating frozen dinners 4 times a week may be a big pivotal toleration which results in obesity, lack of energy, restless sleep or insomnia, lack-lustre hair, chronic pain, poor self-image, or other related symptoms. By exercising and eating well, you can help eliminate many or all of the other tolerations.

Try to ferret out the source of your tolerations. How did the toleration get there in the first place? Pay attention to the agreements you make. Consider that at least some percentage of your tolerations started with a simple “Yes.” Instead of being quick to add tasks, accommodate others and reschedule your time, learn to say, “No, thank you.” Sometimes mustering the courage to tell the truth about a situation helps it get handled permanently. Maybe you just need to admit that you hate ironing, and you ask someone else to do it.

Instead of complaining, make strong requests like, “Tell me what you need.” Refuse to take on projects this month that fail to deliver almost immediate satisfaction. Is there a bad habit you’re unhappy about? Just stop. Right now. You can do it!


Take a Look at the Main Areas of Your Life

In each area of your life, think about what it is that you are not enjoying. What are the things that make your life uncomfortable? What are those irritating things that you’ve learned to tolerate and put up with?

Make a list of the people, problems, and situations you are currently tolerating in your work and home environment. Include the very tangible, like the annoying broken strap on your cell phone, to the more elusive, like relationships that irritate you. Your list should include ongoing complaints, especially the stuff you’ve put up with for so long that you barely even notice.

There are potential costs to removing tolerations from your life. You may initially mourn the activities, people and relationships you let go of that have previously sucked all your energy. Start small and build up as you get a feel for how to use your new energy.


The 10 Steps to a Toleration-Free Life

  1. “Get” that putting up with things is good for no one.
  2. Make a list of 10 things you are tolerating at home.
  3. Make the requests/take the actions to eliminate these items.
  4. Make a list of 10 things you are tolerating at work.
  5. Take the actions to eliminate these items.
  6. Focus on being toleration-free.
  7. Stop complaining: instead, make a strong request.
  8. Invest time and money to handle the tasks/chores that pain you.
  9. Rinse and repeat.


Top 10 Points Regarding Tolerations: What We’re Putting Up With

1. Calling Something a Toleration Gives You Better Control Over It

When you label something as a toleration you, de-personalise it which makes it easier to work on.

2. We Tolerate for a Number of ‘Good’ Reasons

These include cultural norms, ignorance/unawareness, unmet needs, external pressures, emotional stresses. A coach can help you reduce the causes of your tolerations.

3. Tolerations Are Expensive

When you are tolerating you incur two types of cost. The first type is called immediate cost and includes discomfort, emotional reactions, loss of energy, feeling down, friction, effort. The second type is called opportunity cost. In other words, because you, your body and your mind are too busy ‘dealing with’ tolerations you don’t have the bandwidth to see and fully respond to personal and business opportunities which are occurring all around you.

4. Reducing Tolerations Energises a Person

Tolerations are drains and a source of resistance. When you let go of a toleration you feel an increase in energy because you are improving your alignment with what’s true and best for you now.

5. Come to Understand the Toleration Before You Eliminate It

Eliminating tolerations is great. However, there’s a fine balance between coming to understand the root of the toleration and getting stuck in it, constantly regurgitating it.

6. There Are Strategies to Prevent Tolerations from Reoccurring

Once you eliminate a toleration you’ll want to prevent it from happening again. You can do this by having a system for toleration zapping: do, dump, delegate.

7. Boundaries Help to Prevent Tolerations

As you create and extend your boundaries, you’ll become immune to negatives.

8. Your Relationships Will Improve

As you swat tolerations, learn how to say “no” and act in your own best interest, relationships will become cleaner and easier to manage, leaving toxicity and resentment behind.

9. Your Quality of Life Will Not Suffer

Tolerations are a simple, practical place to start working on your quality of life. Start with 10 things you are putting up with. As you identify and work on tolerations, you’ll empower yourself.

10. Become a Toleration-Free Zone

When you first start eliminating tolerations, you may find that you discover more and more of them, so it might seem a little overwhelming. But after three to six months, you’ll start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and you’ll glimpse the possibility of being a toleration-free zone with a great deal more energy, satisfaction and wellbeing.


Helpful Exercises

Figure Out What You Are Tolerating

Knowing what you are tolerating is the first step in the process of zapping your tolerations. List out 10 things, issues, people you are putting up with. Reflect on the cause of the toleration and decide on three actions you could take to begin to manage and get rid of the toleration.

Don’t worry about how you will resolve the issues. Write them out, become conscious of them. You will see that solutions will come.


Get to the Bottom of It

Healthy trees have healthy roots. Don’t just handle the tolerations on the surface. Get to know the roots. Are you working in a job you dislike? Find out the roots of why you feel as you do. Are you not enjoying what you do because it doesn’t allow you to bring into play your talents? Or, do you love what you do but you hate the politics you have to play?


Here is an inventory of tolerations to help you get started:


Home constantly too messy

Size, type of home

Not your preferred area

Home needs redecorating

Car/appliances need repair or replacement

Rent/mortgage payments too high

Furniture needs replacing

What else?

Social Life

Socially isolated

Never going out for recreation

Not enough fun in your life

Small social circle

Too many people in social circle

Lack of meaningful friendships

No participation in the local community

What else?

Family Life

Deteriorating relationship with partner

Children too messy/noisy

Not seeing relatives

Not enough family time

Family feels like a burden

Poor relationship with children

Lack of communication

What else?


Physical Health


Feeling unfit

Lack of energy

Unhealthy, unbalanced diet

Not enough exercise

Back/neck pain

Drug/alcohol intake

What else?


Not enough space and time for self

Lack of intellectual stimulation

Lack of time for self-reflection

Unhappy with appearance

Poor time management

Sense of stagnation


What else? 

Work Life

Working for a lousy boss

Too stressed

Insufficient resources

Insufficient pay

Low work satisfaction

Inadequate training and support

Working in the wrong occupation

Poor working conditions

Dysfunctional organisational culture

What else?


Worry about money

Not enough money for lifestyle

Unmanageable credit card bills

Unpaid bills piling up

Not enough provision for retirement

Not saving anything

Low health/life insurance

What else?

Work Performance

Unmanageable email and voice mail

Poor time management

Unclear job role

Not organised

Poor relationships with colleagues

Over-long work hours

Not delegating enough

No recognition/reward

Poor leadership skills

What else?

Let’s Have a Conversation:

  • What are you tolerating in your life that is draining your energy?
  • Have you thought of where the toleration came from and why it’s bugging you?
  • What can you do about it?
  • How will solving the toleration make your life better?

Article published and appeared first on Sixty and Me.